An astonishing 600 Zalando employees are working on artificial intelligence. The online fashion retailer hopes to fully personalize its shopping environment, with a custom-fit product range for every customer within eighteen months.
Fashion is for techies
Online retailers have a wealth of data at their disposal nowadays, both about their customers and their products, and the next evolution is to actually do something with that information. Major fashion companies are already on that track and want to thoroughly personalize their shopping experience. Zalando itself wants to double its current 4.5 billion euro turnover to 9 billion in the next three years, thanks to personalization and artificial intelligence.
Out of Zalando’s 14,000 employees, 1,900 are working on technology and 600 of those are specifically working on personalization and the artificial intelligence required to make that work, according to German Handelsblatt. In about eighteen months, every Zalando customer should have their own personalized interface with products that cater to their personal needs and interests.
A pregnant customer will immediately get the pregnancy product range and fans of certain brands will get those at first sight. Zalando does understand the dangers of automated personalization based on data: preferences change over time and it is not because you buy something for your nephew that you are actually interested in baby clothing.
That is also why the fashion platform wants to engage its shoppers directly and to have customers rate their own data. Zalando will allow customers to look at their own data profile and ask whether the algorithms have gotten it right.
Customers can correct own data
Chatbots should create an even more personal level of interaction, because these can engage shoppers just like an actual store employee would. The first step would be in a chatroom, but then the mobile app and actual speech would follow. The app could ask you the occasion you wish to dress for and then present suggestions. Would you want the Christmas sweater with glitter?
It will also attempt to implement its styling service Zalon into the web shop and expand its influencer collaborations. These moves will bring Zalando closer to its German competitor, About You, which belongs to the Otto group. The latter is currently focused on European expansion.
Even though About You only generates 135 million euro in annual turnover and is relatively small compared to Zalando, it does pose a threat with its mobile shopping and personalization focus.